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Her eyes, though sod in tears, look'd red and raw ;
Her lively colour kill'd with deadly cares.
He hath no power to ask her how she fares;
Both stood like old acquaintance in a trance o,
Met far from home, wondering each other's chance.
At last he takes her by the bloodless hand,
And thus begins: What uncouth ill event
Hath thee befall'n, that thou dost trembling stand ?
Sweet love, what spite hath thy fair colour spent ?
Why art thou thus attir'd in discontent?
Unmask, dear dear, this moody heaviness,
And tell thy grief that we may give redress.
Three times with sighs she gives her sorrow fire,
Ere once she can discharge one word of woe:
At length, address’d to answer his desire,
She modestly prepares to let them know
Her honour is ta'en prisoner by the foe;
While Collatine and his consorted lords
With sad attention long to hear her words.
And now this pale swan in her watery nest
Begins the sad dirge of her certain ending.
Few words, quoth she, shall fit the trespass best,
Where no excuse can give the fault amending:
In me more woes than words are now depending;
laments would be drawn out too long, To tell them all with one poor tired tongue.
Then, be this all the task it hath to say:
Dear husband, in the interest of thy bed
A stranger came, and on that pillow lay
Where thou was wont to rest thy weary head;
And what wrong else may be imagined
By foul enforcement might be done to me,
From that, alas! thy Lucrece is not free.
For in the dreadful dead of dark midnight,
With shining falchion in my chamber came
A creeping creature, with a flaming light,
And softly cried, Awake, thou Roman dame,
And entertain my love; else lasting shame
On thee and thine this night I will inflict,
If thou my love's desire do contradict.
For some hard-favour'd groom of thine, quoth he,
Unless thou yoke thy liking to my will,
I'll murder straight, and then I'll slaughter thee,
And swear I found
did fulfil The loathsome act of lust, and so did kill
The lechers in their deed: this act will be
My fame, and thy perpetual infamy.
With this I did begin to start and cry,
And then against my heart he set his sword,
Swearing, unless I took all patiently,
I should not live to speak another word;
So should my shame still rest upon record,
And never be forgot in mighty Rome
Th' adulterate death of Lucrece and her groom.
Mine enemy was strong, my poor self weak,
And far the weaker with so strong a fear.
My bloody judge forbad my tongue to speak;
No rightful plea might plead for justice there :
His scarlet lust came evidence to swear
That my poor beauty had purloin'd his eyes,
And when the judge is robb’d, the prisoner dies.
Oh! teach me how to make mine own excuse,
Or, at the least, this refuge let me find:
Though my gross blood be stain’d with this abuse,
Immaculate and spotless is my mind;
That was not forc'd ; that never was inclin'd
To accessory yieldings, but still pure
Doth in her poison'd closet yet endure.
Lo! here the hopeless merchant of this loss,
With head declin'd, and voice damm'd up with woe,
With sad set eyes, and wretched arms across,
From lips new waxen pale begins to blow
The grief away, that stops his answer so;
But wretched as he is, he strives in vain,
What he breathes out, his breath drinks up again.
As through an arch the violent roaring tide
Out-runs the eye that doth behold his haste,
Yet in the eddy boundeth in his pride
Back to the strait that forc'd him on so fast,
In rage sent out, recall’d in rage, being past;
Even so his sighs, his sorrows, make a saw,
To push grief on, and back the same grief draw.
Which speechless woe of his poor she attendeth,
And his untimely frenzy thus awaketh:
Dear lord, thy sorrow to my sorrow lendeth
Another power; no flood by raining slaketh.
My woe, too sensible, thy passion maketh
More feeling painful: let it, then, suffice
To drown one woe one pair of weeping eyes.
And for my sake, when I might charm thee so,
For she that was thy Lucrece, now attend me :
Be suddenly revenged on my foe,
Thine, mine, his own : suppose thou dost defend me
From what is past, the help that thou shalt lend me
Comes all too late, yet let the traitor die ;
For sparing justice feeds iniquity.
But ere I name him, you fair lords, quoth she,
(Speaking to those that came with Collatine)
Shall plight your honourable faiths to me,
With swift pursuit to venge this wrong of mine
; For 'tis a meritorious fair design,
To chase injustice with revengeful arms :
Knights, by their oaths, should right poor ladies' harms.
At this request, with noble disposition
Each present lord began to promise aid,
As bound in knighthood to her imposition,
Longing to hear the hateful foe bewray'd;
But she, that yet her sad task hath not said,
The protestation stops. Oh! speak, quoth she,
How may this forced stain be wip'd from me?
What is the quality of mine offence,
Being constrain'd with dreadful circumstance ?
May my pure mind with the foul act dispense,
My low-declined honour to advance ?
May any terms acquit me from this chance ?
The poison’d fountain clears itself again,
And why not I from this compelled stain ?
With this, they all at once began to say,
Her body's stain her mind untainted clears;
While with a joyless smile she turns away
The face, that map which deep impression bears
Of hard misfortune, carv'd in it with tears'.
No, no, quoth she; no dame, hereafter living,
By my excuse shall claim excuse's giving.
Here, with a sigh as if her heart would break,
She throws forth Tarquin's name : “he, he," she says,
But more than “he” her poor tongue could not speak;
Till after many accents and delays,
Untimely breathings, sick and short assays,
She utters this: he, he, fair lords, 'tis he,
That guides this hand to give this wound to me.
Even here she sheathed in her harmless breast
A harmful knife, that thence her soul unsheathed :
That blow did bail it from the deep unrest
Of that polluted prison where it breathed :
Her contrite sighs unto the clouds bequeathed
Her winged sprite, and through her wounds doth fly
Life's lasting date from cancel'd destiny.
Stone-still, astonish'd with this deadly deed,
Stood Collatine and all his lordly crew;
Till Lucrece' father, that beholds her bleed,
Himself on her self-slaughter'd body threw:
And from the purple fountain Brutus drew
carv'd in it with tears.] Here, in the 4to, 1594, we meet with a slight inversion, “ carv'd it in with tears.” The error detects itself, and it was subse. quently corrected.
The murderous knife, and as it left the place,
Her blood, in poor revenge, held it in chase;
And bubbling from her breast, it doth divide
In two slow rivers, that the crimson blood
Circles her body in on every side,
Who like a late-sack'd island vastly stood,
Bare and unpeopled, in this fearful flood.
Some of her blood still pure and red remain’d,
And some look'd black, and that false Tarquin stain’d.
About the mourning and congealed face
Of that black blood a watery rigol goes',
Which seems to weep upon the tainted place :
And ever since, as pitying Lucrece' woes,
Corrupted blood some watery token shows;
And blood untainted still doth red abide,
Blushing at that which is so putrefy'd.
Daughter, dear daughter! old Lucretius cries,
That life was mine, which thou hast here deprived.
If in the child the father's image lies,
Where shall I live, now Lucrece is unlived ?
Thou wast not to this end from me derived.
If children pre-decease progenitors,
We are their offspring, and they none of our’s.
Poor broken glass ! I often did behold
In thy sweet semblance my old age new-born;
But now that fair fresh mirror, dim and old,
Shows me a bare-bon’d death by time out-worn.
Oh! from thy cheeks my image thou hast torn,
And shiver'd all the beauty of my glass,
That I no more can see what once I was.
Oh time! cease thou thy course, and last no longer,
If they surcease to be that should survive.
8 — a watery Rigol goes,] A"rigol " is a circle. See Vol. iii. p. 506 :
“That from this golden rigol hath divorc'd
So many English kings." In a note upon this passage it is conjectured that the true word may have been ringol, or ringle; and that “rigol-eyed ” means round-eyed, and not “wriggleeyed " as explained by the Rev. A. Dyce in Middleton's Works, v. p. 536.